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November 16. 2014 9:34PM

The Donald trumped event with praise for Foley, others


 

Donald Trump phoned the other day. It was the morning after the Nackey Loeb School had honored the late James Foley with its annual First Amendment award. Trump had been the featured speaker and he met Foley’s mom and dad and aunt and uncle and a French journalist who had been held captive with Jim.

Trump said he goes to a lot of events. Sometimes, afterwards, he asks himself, “Why did I do that event?’’

He said that wasn’t the case with the Loeb School program. Even though it was in some ways sad, he told me he was glad he had been invited.

He didn’t have to say anymore. I know exactly how he felt.

From the moment Dianne Mercier of People’s United Bank welcomed the audience and directed her own poignant remarks to the Foley family, I had the feeling this was going to be a memorable event, notwithstanding some excellent past recipients and featured speakers.

What James Foley accomplished as a professional journalist in war zones was itself remarkable. In words and pictures, which were shown in a brief video that also included Foley speaking, it became clear that this was a young man passionate about his work, very good at it, and concerned about innocent people being caught up in turmoil.

French journalist Nicolas Henin, himself held captive by ISIS for more than a year, was an impromptu speaker at the event. He had spent time with Foley as a hostage and, as others have noted, said that Foley was always self-effacing, always concerned for other hostages, always upbeat.

Foley would not have been comfortable as the center of attention, Henin told the audience. But he would want people here to remember the suffering going on elsewhere.

Watching and listening to his parents, you could see why Foley was who he was. His dad is a doctor, his mom a nurse. Their New Hampshire roots run deep. Dr. Foley’s father was a big part of Plymouth State College for years. Their pride in their family is evident and despite their ordeal, it is they who reach out to comfort others.

I think everyone at the event sensed that. Donald Trump certainly did. His own remarks had gone from bemoaning the state of American affairs, to chiding the President for chewing (nicotine) gum in public, to asking, with a smile, who better to speak of First Amendment freedoms than an outspoken guy like himself.

But it was his remarks about Foley that hit the high note. He said that an America that can produce such individuals still has bright days ahead.

I think The Donald is right.


Write to Joe McQuaid at Publisher@unionleader.com or on Twitter @deucecrew.





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